"נישואין הם דבר רציני."

Translation:Marriage is a serious thing.

July 10, 2016

54 Comments
This discussion is locked.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EitanAltsh

why is נישואין plural? why is it הם and not הוא?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Pumbush

נישואין = נישואים

It is plural.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JamesTWils

I'm not sure I understand you here. Does the singular נישוא mean something? Are you saying that the plural of that singular is the more masculine looking נישואים, but that נישואין is still grammatically a masculine plural?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Pumbush

This word doesn't have a singular.

נישוא doesn't mean anything

And the two words I wrote are the same, sometimes written this way and sometimes that way.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JamesTWils

Thank you. I imagine, much like the English term nuptials, the singular may have had a meaning at some point that it no longer has.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Shim
  • 390

Actually, nuptial is a perfectly valid and commonly used word.

In Hebrew there are many words that don't have a singular form. For example מים (water) and פנים (face). But in English there are certainly some words that signify a single object but are pluralized, such as "pants" and "eyeglasses"/"spectacles". With respect to this particular word, first off, the suffix ן instead of ם has to do with the Aramaic origin of the word. I suspect that the word has a plural sense because in Jewish tradition it specifically encompasses quite a few different components of the marriage process.

Here's an interesting article I found on the subject: (it's in Hebrew, great practice) http://goo.gl/1wmEZA


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JamesTWils

In the English I have heard spoken in the northwestern, northeastern, and north central parts of the United States, one does not hear the singular noun "nuptial." The adjective "nuptial" is heard, as in "nuptial blessing," and the plural "nuptials" is applied to weddings, but the singular noun is not. "Nuptials" is, of course, simply a substantivized adjective, and I suspect that "nuptial" as a singular noun might at one time have been used for a nuptial mass, but we now only use it in the plural form, I assume originally referring to all the events having to do with the wedding.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Agatha229532

I was interested in the origin of that word too and this is what I found: "I would argue/comment that eli left out the common meaning of the root of the word nissuin of "to elevate or to lift". and that to lift something includes the meanings of both to carry and to take. granted this is a bit of a semantical distinction, but i feel entitled considering the whole context here. In regard to the difference between kiddushin and nissuin, i was grappling with this a few months ago, as my yeshiva is currently learning kesuvos. Where I left off, is that kiddushin is not so much taking her to you as much as removing her from others, where nissuin is the actual taking of her to you as one entity/partnership." Source: http://havolim.blogspot.com/2010/03/question-what-does-nisuin-mean.html


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/koolkin

נישוי -means married:singular masculine נישואה- means married: singular feminine (I believe if there is plural...there's always a singular)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Janis559500

But what you are calling masculine singular and feminine singular are adjectives, not nouns. there is no singular of the noun nisuin/nisuim, as others have explained.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/evelyn3981

Is it possible that this originated as an Aramaic word, hence the ן ending?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hsn626796

It's possible..

Arabic too has the "-een" ending for nouns . Now, it all fits together.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/YardenNB

Not only possible, it's a fact (-:


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aaron.Crowe

And probably due to the influence of the Mishnah which has terms from Aramaic legal documents.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Robbie57027

If the word is pural and the הם reflects that, surely דבר should thrn follow as דברים. I will never understand this sentence. It seems a big contradiction.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IngeborgHa14

Well, although נִשּׂוּאִין marriage is grammatically plural, it describes nontheless a single procedure. These kind of words can be described by single concepts, like מַ֫יִם נְקִיִּים הֵם זְכוּת אָדָם clean water is a human right or English alms are a freewill gift to those in need.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Robbie57027

If it describes a single procedure, then why the plural they and singular thing


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/YardenNB

Ingeborg showed more examples, from more languages. I think it's fair to say these are "accidents" in the language - when a singular concept gets a plural wor - but accidents that do happen. I can imagine ways it can happen: (1) at an older time in the language history people thought of the thing as plural, and would say things like נישואין הם דברים רציניים; then the concept shifted to singular but the plural word remained. (2) The word began as singular, but due to its morphology people "mistook" it for plural - I imagine that's the case with מים.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Seth_Pennell

Is there a plural of this already plural word (that would be "marriages" in English)?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IngeborgHa14

Well, not formally. But it can be clear from the context (אֲנִי דּוֹרֵשׁ נִשּׂוּאֵי־יִתְרוֹן לִשְׁתֵּי בָּנוֹת שֶׁלִּי I require advantageous marriages for my two daughters) or made clear by attached pluralic attributes (אֲנִי נִכְשַׁ֫לְתִּי בִּשְׂנֵי נִשּׂוּאִים I failed in two marriages or לְמַעֲשֶׂה רוֹב הַנִּשּׂוּאִים שֶׁאֲנִי מַכִּיר הֵם נוֹרָאִים in fact, most marriages I know are terrible).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DL-Trolls

There is definitely a reason for everything in this language. It is plural for a reason and this reason is worth searching out.

Perhaps, for now, "marital ties" is the way to go to get around the plural issue. Marital ties are a serious thing.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IngeborgHa14

Well, originally the word is derived from the expression נָשָׂא אִשָּׁה, when you (as a man) take the bride into your household, which is different from the אֵרוּסִין betrothal (also a plural noun), which takes place some time earlier (with a virgin usually a year earlier). In my prosaic thinking I subsumed it into the category of abstract plurals like נְעוּרִים youth, סַנְוֵרִים blindness and בְּתוּלִים virginity, but maybe you can come up with a better explanation for these plurals used in judicalese terms.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DL-Trolls

Haha :) This is great. Thank you. BTW, I see here that we have a plural copula agreeing with the subject but not the latter part of the sentence...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IngeborgHa14

Well, the rules for the זֶה group are different from the rules for the הוּא group as a copula...: רוֹפְאִים זֶה מִקְרֶה מְיֻחָד Doctors are a special case versus רוֹפְאִים הֵם אֲנָשִׁים מְתֻחִים Doctors are tense people.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DL-Trolls

אני מבין. מעניין.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MichaelSch634214

This is awkward in English because נישואין is plural and דבר is singular. In English, these would be expected to match: Marriages are serious things, or Marriage is a serious thing. I'll bet this question scores a very high percentage of wrong translations because of this.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ZoeFarmingdale

this is the part i don't understand. why "they is"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ChayaDoppelt

It's not. It says נישואין הם (marriage is - or marriages are if you wanna be nitty gritty) דבר רציני (a serious thing)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TeribleT

They are saying (Israelis in the comments), that it's "they" because the word marriage (in Hebrew) is plural. Therefore it is "they" (plural) instead of singular to match "marriage".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Theresa754142

Nisu’in hem davar retsini.

Pealim lists nisuim as an alternative spelling of marriage. ‏נישואים.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mark_B420

Just to mention it somewhere -- in the vocabulary introduction picture exercises, I got two identical pictures with the different words of "marriage" and "wedding". Which could be confusing…


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jewpsy

Yeah, there should be two completely different pictures - two people dressed up for the ceremony for "wedding" and two people in pijamas arguing who is going to wash dishes for "marriage"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Home-To-Him

"נִשּׂוּאִין הֵם דָּבָר רְצִינִי."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ben4356989

If you play it 15 times it'll start to sound like me swim


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TalGlobus

I don't understand this. Hebrew requires tense and number (singular/plural) to match, and נישואין seems female plural, הם for a single item (not mixed group) means male plural, and דבר is non-gender singular. How is this grammatically correct? Why not הן? Why not נישואים? Why not דברים?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IngeborgHa14

Well, נִשּׂוּאִין is an Aramaic plural and indeed masculine. The Hebraized spelling would be נִשּׂוּאִים. I suppose, the word "marriage" was used much in Rabbinic writings, where Aramaic expressions abound, and so this form was retained in Modern Hebrew too. As "marriage" is a plurale tantum, i.e. technically a plural form for a single thing, you may call it a דָּבָר, like English "Scissors are a good thing to have handy."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TeribleT

Perfect example sentence to explain it. Thank you!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dan878472

Best explanation yet! and so, when I plugged "water is a good thing" into google translate, I am no longer surprised by the answer, מים הם דבר טוב. Although allowing Google translate to be the arbiter for any sort of clarification is risky


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DL-Trolls

Yeah, but they got that right ;)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hsn626796

If "נישואין" is plural, then why is its English equivalent singular ("marriage" and not marriages) ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IngeborgHa14

It is like alms and feces. The form is plural, but it has no singular and denotes only one object or process (a "plurale tantum"). In the same way מַ֫יִם is simply water, and not "waters" or several kinds of water.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/gsazbon

Should be accepted: Marriage is something serious.?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IngeborgHa14

Well, for something serious I would propose מַ֫שֶּׁהוּ רְצִינִי (or somewhat pedantic דְּבַר־מַה רְצִינִי), but I am not sure this really means something different.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Michael951706

I don't understand why it must be רציני, rather than רצין.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IngeborgHa14

Well, I think Eliezwe ben Yehudah originally coined the adjective רָצִין after Arabic رزين serious, but the form רְצִינִי, which is a more typical Mishqal for adjectives, proved to be more popular.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DL-Trolls

Does it help if I state that רציני is the masculine adjective and רצינית is the feminine adjective?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Michael951706

Hi DL, thanks. I think what I wasn't getting is that רצין also translates to "serious". So I'm not getting what part of speech it fits?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/YardenNB

There's no such thing רצין in Hebrew.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IngeborgHa14

Well, yes, but only by a close miss. Quote: "Ultimately, many of Ben-Yehuda's Arabic-based lexical neologisms were rejected, including וָזִיר (< Arabic wazīr) minister (in favour of שַׂר), זִבְדָּה (< Arabic zibda) butter (in favour of חֶמְאָה), לָטִיף (< Arabic laṭīf) nice (in favour of נֶחְמָד), רָצִין (< Arabic raṣīn) serious (in favour of רְצִינִי, with a more transparent adjectival form)."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wgwythemd

the hebrew word for marriage is a singular noun. Why then is the pleural pronoun used, when it seems a singular pronoun should be used. Even more complicated, is that the adjective for "serious" is written in the singular. Marriage should be either singular or pleural, it can't be both.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IngeborgHa14

Well, the word נִשּׂוּאִין is an Aramaic plural and used as the subject. The predicate is the singualar noun דָּבָר. You can combine a plurale tantum (a word which is formally plural, but expresses a singular thing) with a noun in the singular, consider English: Scissors are a good thing to have handy.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TinaDahlst

Why is word marriage in plural form in Hebrew?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IngeborgHa14

Well, נִשּׂוּאִין marriage is a plurale tantum in Hebrew, like alms or faeces in English it has no singular.

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